We all expected Andy Rubin (the man at Google behind the Android project) to talk Gingerbread at tonight's All Things D's Dive into Mobile conference keynote, but nobody expected to see a prototype Motorola tablet, running Honeycomb. Not many details were given, but the tablet lacks physical buttons, and was shown running the upcoming Maps application. When asked about Honeycomb, Rubin stated that a new API was added that allows any application to split its views into multiple panes. On a tablet, they could be side by side, and on a phone in series one after the other.
You can bet we're hitting all our sources to find out more, and we'll be sure to let you know as soon as we do. [All Things D, Engadget]
Google Andy Rubin whipped out a prototype tablet tonight at the D: Dive Into Mobile conference. That it's a prototype Motorola tablet running Honeycomb is special enough. But it's what he was doing on it that sounds pretty cool. First up was Google Maps. And if there's one thing that frustrates us above all else with Google Maps, it's all that damned tiling, never mind how good our network connection is.
But tiling, apparently, is about to become a thing of the past. A vector version of Google Maps is about to drop "in a matter of days," Rubin said, and will bring better panning and zooming. Plus, 3D graphics and what not -- and offline caching.
Still images from a video don't do it justice, we're sure, so keep an eye out for the video, and for updated maps in a few days. [All Things D; Engadget]
Update:Engadget was given a list of phones that will support the new Google Maps. They are: Samsung Galaxy S, Motorola Droid, Motorola, Droid X, Motorola Droid 2, HTC Droid Incredible, HTC Evo 4G, Nexus S, HTC G2. No Nexus One, apparently, because of multitouch issues. How quickly we fall out of favor, eh?
Ask us to define art, and we'll tell you this: We know it when we see it. And tucked deep inside the Android 2.3 Gingerbread SDK is this little ... gem. Can't decide if we're going to have nightmares, or chuckle ourselves to sleep at its awesomeness. It's buried way down at platforms/android-9/data/res/drawable-nodpi/platlogo.jpg in the Gingerbread SDK, and woe is the person who has it pop up on their phone. But to whomever at Google sneaked it in there, we say this: You, sir or madam, are awesome. Thanks, Chris!
This is one that most of us here in the United States take for granted. Android 2.2 supports 26 languages, or variants thereof. Android 2.3 Gingerbread more than doubles that at 57. And atop the list is Arabic -- one that's been atop Google's own AOSP wish list for quite some time. So, yes, Gingerbread supports Arabic, and a whole bunch of new languages. Peep the list below. We're more global than ever! [Android 2.3 Locales]
Verizon Wireless will begin pushing an update for the DROID by Motorola today. Enhancements include an updated Twitter® application, improved Exchange Active Sync® functionality, updated Gmail user interface and more. For more information about this update customers can go to www.verizonwireless.com/droidsupport.
This is that update we told you about last week. Nice to see this level of support in an age when phones are obsolete about a week after they are released, and better Exchange support is always welcome. Hit the source link for a full changelog, and instructions in case you're not familiar with the OTA process. [Verizon]
Android 2.3 Gingerbread and the Samsung Nexus S? You guys are nearly blowing up our forums. We had to order extra hamsters and wheels. It's nuts. It's insane. And it's freakin' awesome. Here are but a few topics du jour:
Win a Nexus S - First and foremost, we're giving one away, shipping it anywhere in the continental United States. All you have to do is post in this thread.
In a bit of awesome news, the android.view.KeyEvent class (that's geek speak for keyboard controls in the code) in Android 2.3 has been updated to include support for what looks like Playstation phone controls. Included are new fields for buttons named A,B,C, L1, L2, R1, R2, select, start, X, Y, and Z. All I can say, is Konami Code lockscreen password FTW. [Android Developers] Thanks, Nick!
You all remember when the Best Buy website first made mention of the Samsung Nexus S? Of course you do, it was one of the many hints we had that the Samsung Nexus S was indeed on it's way bringing the joys of Gingerbread with it as well as the "Pure Google" experience. Amidst all the announcements today, that link has since re-appeared and now actually takes you to the intended information page. I'm sure many folks were hoping that the site would be used to pre-order the device but sadly that is not the case. Although, that could change at some point so best to check it out every now and then. [Best Buy] Thanks, jaeisber!
The Motorola Droid X is on the cusp of getting an update for some bugfixes and new features. No, it's not Gingebread. We repeat: It is not Gingerbread. The list of improvements in Version 2.3.340.MB810.Verizon.en.USIBP_C_01.09.07P) is pretty damn long, though, and comprises:
Preloaded Madden NFL football game.
Preloaded Adobe Flash Player 10.1.
Preloaded MyVerizon application (v5).
Added Data Widget to home panel.
Improved Android OS Froyo stability
Fixes to Exchange Activesync
Fixes to Visual Voicemail
And many, many more. You can find all of the changes at the source link. (Warning: It's a PDF). [Verizon via Android Central Forums] Thanks, beastmg!
There's a lot going on new in Gingerbread from the end user perspective, but there's just as much new behind the scenes, and the real meat and potatoes lies with the core changes that developers can use to make a great thing even better. While there's bound to be countless small changes, we can have a look at the major changes and what they mean to us non-developers
New base Linux kernel version
Starting at the bottom of the Gingerbread pyramid, the Linux kernel has been updated to 2.6.35. This is the kernel version that third-party ROM developers have been using for a while, and it provides more stability and speed. Look for the new stock kernel to show some of the improvements we're used to from custom kernels in use today.
New media framework
OpenCore (the current Froyo media framework) has been completely replaced. All the previous codec support has been maintained, and support for new technology like VP8 video compression, and WebM video containers has been implemented. Gingerbread is set up and ready to keep pace with the newest audio and video files as they are produced.
Besides the new SIP calling stack, and Near Field Communication support we're all talking about, there's a new BlueZ stack in Gingerbread. Bluetooth 2.1 support means better Bluetooth performance across a wide array of BT devices. That's something we all will love to see.
The Dalvik runtimes
There has been quite a few improvements to the Dalvik virtual machine (that's what was improved with a just-in-time compiler (JIT) in Froyo and makes things fast). For the end user, all we really need to know is that it should run a little faster, especially while rendering web pages. Here's the full list of changes for the hardcore Android geeks:
StrictMode debugging, for identifying performance and memory issues
Expanded I18N support (full worldwide encodings, more locales)
Faster Formatter and number formatting. For example, float formatting is 2.5x faster.
HTTP responses are gzipped by default. XML and JSON API response sizes may be reduced by 60% or more.
New collections and utilities APIs
Improved network APIs
Improved file read and write controls
Updates from upstream projects:
This is just the tip of the iceberg folks. There's a whole slew of API changes that give developers direct OS support for things like front facing cameras, gyroscopic sensors, and better OpenGL support. If you want to get dirty and check them all out, head to the source link. [Android Developer Highlights]
The Nexus One will be getting its Android 2.3 Gingerbread update "in a few weeks," says Google's Reto Meier. That's in contradiction to at least two unsourced reports today, one of which has since been spiked, that said it was rolling out right now. On Twitter, Meier responded:
The Nexus One OTA isn't happening just yet - should be coming in a few weeks.
If you've hacked your Nexus One to hell and back (like a lot of us) and want to get in on the initial OTA push (whenever it happens), we've got instructions on how to roll things back. And for those of you who just can't stand stock, rooted versions should hit quickly enough. [@retomeier]
If you're wanting to dig into the Android 2.3 user guide to get a better perspective of what, exactly is new within Gingerbread you can now download it via the Google Mobile support page. While most of us like to dig through and find stuff out on our own, it's still a handy thing to have kicking around especially for new Android users. Be sure to grab it and of course, if you have any Android 2.3 specific questions by all means, feel free to ask in our Android 2.3 forums that are now open. [Google]
The Nexus S will be the first Android phone to ship with Gingerbread, and Google's put together a nice little video featuring the backstory of the device, as well as more on Gingerbread. It's a good look at the "pure Google" experience. Check it out. [Google Blog]
Customers can purchase Nexus S for $529 as an unlocked phone without a contract. Nexus S optimized for T-Mobile’s network is available for $199 with a two-year service agreement and qualifying voice and data plan.
And so has CW: From £35 on contract to £549 SIM-free
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